Thousands Orphaned and Displaced as Violence Increases and Ebola Spreads in DR Congo

A new wave of extreme violence in DR Congo is making a bad situation even worse. Ebola continues to spread in the nation at a frightening pace since the outbreak began in August. And as the UN and ministries try to stem the Ebola tide, there have been 130 attacks on health facilities this year alone. Additional attacks on villages have sent people flooding into internally displaced persons (IDP) camps.

Mission Aviation Fellowship has a base near an IDP camp in Bunia. Jon Cadd with MAF says the situation is desperate.

“A year ago, we had a huge influx of IDPs — internally displaced people — and refugees into the town close to us, Bunia. There were over 100,000 refugees in the camp [and with families in town] there, and then more camps opened up and there were more refugees. It was a really terrible situation.

“We were just getting ready this month [for] people who would be going back to their homes, and the government was trying to be helpful with transportation and stuff like that. Then all of a sudden, violence has erupted again and people are pouring back into the camp.”

In the last few weeks, Cadd reports Bunia’s IDP camp — whose capacity is already bursting at the seams — took in nearly 1,000 more people.

“They’re coming into the camp with nothing except for what they have walked with on their back…. The violence in their villages [is] people coming in and burning houses and shooting people and hacking them up with machetes. They just run for their lives and are hiding in the bush for a while. Then they walk all the way to Bunia to try to get to a safer place.”

Some of the new arrivals haven’t eaten in days. Many of them are children.

Cadd met one woman who walked four days with her five kids — one of whom is just an infant still breastfeeding — to escape certain death.

“Imagine you in America having to do something like that. You would be devastated with nothing, no place to live. And it’s the rainy season. It’s pouring down rain. So a lot of these people are just stuffed into one tent that’s about 10-by-20 feet and it’s just wall-to-wall people in there with pouring down rain outside.”

MAF is responding with food, tarps for shelter, and spiritual encouragement.

They show the “Jesus” film with the help of national pastors, and MAF’s chaplain, Pastor Bisoke initiated the start of a sewing class for rape survivors in the IDP camp.

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Lyndsey Koh